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March 4, 2011

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Home » Metro » Education

Scramble for drama courses

STARTING tomorrow, an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 students from all over the country will compete for 50 places in the Shanghai Theater Academy's most earnestly sought-after acting department.

An admission official from the academy said the entrance examination will run for about a week and is divided into three rounds, which include recitation, singing, dancing, a gymnastics test and an impromptu performance.

"The students will face a greater challenge to their imagination, wit, passion and acting skills this year as there are 25 fewer places on the major course than last year," said Zhang Shengquan, an official from the academy.

After the examination results are released in mid-April, the students must then participate in the nationwide college entrance exams to be held in June and must achieve a certain mark, stipulated by the academy, to be accepted.

Although many applicants are attracted to the performing arts major due to the lower academic requirements, Chen Hongya, a 40-something mother, believes in her daughter's talent in this field.

"I'm the only one of my family who supports her decision," said Chen. "I know the risk and how hard the competition is, but at my daughter's age, she should give herself a chance to pursue her dream, rather than listen to others."

At the Xie Jin Film and Television Art College of Shanghai Normal University, another major theater school in the city, the competition has also become stiffer. Only 30 students from the 1,500 or so young hopefuls will be admitted into the acting major.

Liu Jiarui, an entrance candidate, believes that acting can give a release to all her stifled aspirations, emotions and even her "dark side."

"I am now studying at a local high school which is a stage for girls' jealousy and intrigue," Liu adds. "I'm not very popular at school and usually an object of derision, so I always hold back my emotions. It's really hard for me, but as an actress, I can experience many different lives and express my emotions freely."

Many wannabe stars regard the acting school a golden chance for fame. However, according to Zhao Bingxiang, dean of Xie Jin Film and Television Art College, studying in a prestigious acting department doesn't guarantee fame.

"The fact is that a lot of students will remain unknown for years after they take up their acting career," Zhao said. "That's why I always tell my students to … never expect any sort of quick success and fame."

Zhao added that every year only about one third of the graduates would become actors. Many others will move into acting-related careers.

Xu Jiayi, a new graduate from Xie Jin, has set up her own public relations and advertising company.

"After four years studying at the college, I finally found where my true passion and interest lies," Xu said. "For those who have a mania for stardom, my advice is don't count on luck, be prepared. They have a long, tough way to go before becoming a good actor."


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